Windows Vista SP1 Due in Early 2008

Microsoft today released the first concrete information about the first service pack for Windows Vista, announcing among other things that it's scheduled to be shipped early next year. Moreover, a public beta will be available in a few weeks.

On the Vista team blog, Product Manager Nick White gave a general release timeframe, with a little hedging.

"We're targeting releasing SP1 to manufacturing in the first quarter of 2008, but as always, we're first and foremost focused on delivering a high-quality release, so we'll determine the exact release date of SP1 after we have reached that quality bar," he wrote.

SP1 will be a large download -- large enough that some businesses may want to get a DVD copy instead. A white paper on the Vista blog puts the size at 1 GB, with about 7 GB needed for installation (although most of that will be freed up after the install).

A large service pack is needed for all the changes and upgrades Microsoft has coming. The company identified three key areas of improvements: security, reliability and performance. Also coming are improvements to application and device driver compatibility, and administration enhancements involving deployment, management and support enhancements.

Some of those upgrades were included in recently released "Vista Performance and Reliability Packs," which will be a part of SP1.

One prominent omission from the list of fixes, upgrades and new features in SP1 is any mention of the redesigned search technology Microsoft promised as a result of complaints that Microsoft's desktop search technology, called Instant Search, isn't open enough to the competition. As of press time, Microsoft had not responded to questions about the absence of information regarding desktop search.

Microsoft has, until now, been extremely tight-lipped about its plans for SP1. Word leaked that small groups of testers had been getting the code, but Microsoft would neither confirm nor deny any information beyond generic statements that a service pack was in the works. In his comments, White addressed the reason for that.

"A small group of testers has been putting a preview of the SP1 Beta through its paces to help prepare for broader release. We made the choice to start with a very small group of testers because we think it's better for both our customers and for Microsoft to keep the beta program small at the start."

Deployment of SP1 is available through three methods, according to the white paper. They are:

  • "Express. Requires an Internet connection but minimizes the size of the download by sending only the changes needed for a specific computer (approximately 50 MB for x86-based operating systems).
  • Stand-alone. Recommended for computers with limited Internet connectivity and for applying the service pack to multiple computers. The download size is larger than the express package, but customers can apply a single package to any Windows Vista version and language combination (within a platform). Distribution tools like System Center Configuration Manager 2007 use stand-alone packages to deploy Windows Vista SP1.
  • Slipstream. The slipstream version of Windows Vista SP1 is media that already contains the service pack, which companies can use to deploy the operating system to new computers or to upgrade existing computers. Availability will be limited. Microsoft will update Windows Vista retail media with Windows Vista SP1 slipstream media in the future. Slipstream media will also be available to Volume Licensing customers."

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at [email protected].